At one spot in the Riviera Maya of Mexico, near Playa del Carmen, there’s a luxury hotel and golf complex that has four top resorts, a PGA championship golf course, and a gorgeous beach. This would be Mayakoba, where there is also a common “El Pueblito” area that has a wedding chapel. a cooking school, upscale handicrafts boutique, and an art gallery.
This is a rather unusual development for Mexico, not just because of the four hotels behind one gate, but also because of the way it is designed. In the middle is the golf course, but one intertwined with mangroves and natural canals. The canals are actually former cenotes with the tops removing, making the waterways navigable.
Most of the resort rooms, bungalows, or villas are situated far from the shore along paved paths or on the canals. There are a few seaside rooms and villas, but these are rare. The bulk of them are much further back, protected from storms and an oceanfront where fighting beach erosion is a steady battle.
If there’s an anchor here’s it’s Fairmont Mayakoba, the largest property and the one with the most extensive convention facilities. It’s know for a variety of good restaurants, an extensive spa, and BMW bikes you can use to get to the seaside if you don’t take a boat or golf cart shuttle.
Rosewood Mayakoba has an impeccable reputation, both in terms of its cuisine and its service. Even the pickiest travelers come away impressed by the staffers here and there’s a strong guest-focused urge to please in an individual manner. Rooms are more like houses here and the design is a nice dose of modern Mexico with a nod to the heritage.
I was thrilled to spend a few nights at Banyan Tree Mayakoba Resort and Spa recently while attending the ILTM Americas luxury travel conference. It was every bit as fantastic as I remembered, with my casita (like most) having its own sizable swimming pool, hot tub, separate living room building, and a huge bathroom. It’s really like living in a spacious house for just a couple.
This being a Thai chain, they have a great spa with Thai masseuses and the Saffron restaurant with elegant and tasty food like you’d find in a high-end Bangkok restaurant. It’s delightful all around.
It took more than a decade between the first resort here opening and the last welcoming guests. That finally came to pass with the addition of Andaz Riviera Maya Mayakoba in 2017. It has a larger cluster of rooms close to the water, two pools, a spa, tennis courts, and well-regarded restaurants. This Hyatt-run property started off strong with experienced management and solid staff training. See our full review of Andaz Mayakoba here.
You can follow the links above for reviews of the individual hotels. For more info on the whole area, see the Mayakoba.com website for more, including ownership opportunities.
Despite the huge swath of property this complex takes up, it’s actually in a reasonably convenient location. Just a 15-minute drive from Playa del Carmen, it’s close enough to the shopping and nightlife action if you want to cab it to somewhere lively for a while before returning to your plush bedroom and morning room service.
You won’t know you’re that close to the city from the wildlife though. Expect to find plenty of bird-watching opportunities here as well as fish and lizards you’ll see in the waters when taking a boat through the canals.